The purpose in putting pen to paper, making those marks across the page. The purpose in pressing keys and moving the mouse. The purpose in proposing change, in newly minted hope. Are they the right ones? Are they the ones that we will be most proud of tomorrow, or in ten years.
The reason why I ask is because of all of the things that our skeptics have challenged us with, the charge of purpose is the one that weighs the heaviest upon me. Even the would-be advocates and the late-adopers, these people matter because they cause us to push ourselves into the areas of purpose. Why would we use Google Docsrather than Word? Why should we push for open standards? Why should we create learning drastically different learning environments using tools that require a lot of professional and personal investment?
The purpose matters in what we do.
We should be able to articulate it clearly and readily. In speaking to the Math teacher on my team, she asked me what the purpose of a scribe post was in the face of other, more simple techniques for getting kids to collect what they have done in the classroom from day to day. It took me aback after we had watched the wonderful K12 presentation on the subject (Release the Hounds). My breath was caught in my throat for just one second. Am I a charlatan? Do I, in fact, have a reason for working so hard to implement blogging in the classroom other than the fact that it is my natural instinct as a connected teacher to want to connect my kids to one another and the world.
For too long I have shied away from questions about whether or not blogging will help teachers do things quicker, more efficiently, or better. I have made the argument that blogging and other environment influencing tools help to create a different system, a different type of classroom, so how can you possibly compare the two. But that is not giving a purpose. That is shifting the target. That is saying to all of the potential stakeholders that your goals are no longer valid; these are the new and improved measurements of success.I’m not sure that we can win with that argument because it dodges the whole concept of purpose.
‘Why should we change’ is a fundamental question that cannot be answered by a hypothetical appeal to a 21st century economy that may or may not exist in the near or distant future. That cannot be our main avenue to get change accomplished. To a certain extent, we must be able to explain how the collaborative tools and the pedagogy of creation and authenticity will help to get kids and teachers to someplace better, not just someplace different.
We have to make the case for “better.”
So, my question to everyone who reads this is how have you made the case that the way you do things is not just different, but better? How have you taken your learning network and been able to show that it isn’t just a bunch of educational nerds in a vacuum? How have you shown someone purpose behind what you do?